This famous Scottish medieval surname found in the spellings of Gillibrand, Gellibrand and Jellybrand, derives from the Olde English pre 7th century personal name Gislbrand. This translates as "burning bright" which may seem unusual to 20th century eyes, but was of a form which was highly popular in what is called 'The Dark Ages'. It may also seem strange that a Scottish surname should have an English ancestry, but for many years the former kingdom of Strathclyde was an English fiefdom. The first recorded name holder was granted a pension of twenty pounds per year from the lands of Belhelvie, north of Aberdeen, on the instruction of King Robert the Bruce of whom he was a prominent supporter. His son also Laurence Gillibrand, fared less well being imprisoned by the English in 1346 after the Battle of Durham, although it appears that he was later knighted, being recorded as Sir Lawrence Gillibrand in 1355. He held lands leased from the Earl of Mar, whilst a later Lawrence Gillbrande (as recorded) was a burgess of Aberdeen. The family gave their name to the area known as The Lands of Gillibrand, in Aberdeenshire. The spelling as Jellybrand is believed to be an English form, most recorded in Lancashire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Laurence de Gelybrand, which was dated Circa 1309, in the "Exchequer Rolls of Scotland", during the reign of King Robert the Bruce of Scotland 1306 - 1329. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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